‘Forbes’ editor scopes out Israel for under-30 confab crowd

This will be the first time Forbes organizes a global event, instead of a regional one, for the “30 Under 30” members.

A cityscape of Tel Aviv (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
A cityscape of Tel Aviv
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Forbes editor Randall Lane is checking out Tel Aviv’s hottest venues and nightclubs in the run-up to the magazine’s first “Under 30 Summit Global” scheduled for May, which is expected to attract hundreds of young entrepreneurs to Israel.
Lane name-dropped the town’s hippest spots as he sat in a café near Rothschild Boulevard on Tuesday and raved about what it will be like for 800 of “30 Under 30” wealthy luminaries to descend on Tel Aviv.
“‘30 Under 30’ is Forbes’ most celebrated brand,” Lane said. It’s the biggest thing we’ve done since the billionaires’ list. The entire world out of college wants to be on this list... The cohort is mind-boggling. Every single person is more amazing than the next.”
This will be the first time Forbes organizes a global event, instead of a regional one, for the “30 Under 30” members. The conference will bring all the listed entrepreneurs, scientists and culture-makers for two days of networking and idea-swapping in Tel Aviv and two in Jerusalem.
“Start-Up Nation, Tel Aviv happens to be one of the great entrepreneurial cities in the world,” Lane said. “It’s an incredibly vibrant place full of start-up energy, unlike any other place. And Jerusalem has meaning to a large part of the world’s population in terms of heritage.”
Forbes editor Randall Lane (Courtesy)Forbes editor Randall Lane (Courtesy)
Some 200 of the visitors hail from the US; 200 from Europe; 100 to 200 from East Asia; and 200 from Israel, the rest of the Middle East and Africa.
The vetting process for attendees includes reporters combing through resumes and CEOs ranking the semifinalists. In past years, 15,000 Americans have applied for 600 spots in 20 categories, ranging from finance, entertainment and technology. Israel names 60 people each year.
This is Lane’s seventh visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories in the past two-and-a-half years.
Hundreds of May’s list-makers will ring the opening bell of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, rave at a culinary Tel Aviv beach party, network with local venture capitalists, tour Jerusalem’s Old City, imbibe on a bar crawl of Mahaneh Yehuda shuk, contribute in a volunteer service day and watch the sun rise from Masada’s ancient fortress.
In the past, Forbes summits have hosted speakers such as digital entrepreneur Aaron Levie, Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and WeWork founder Adam Neumann.
In past regional events, European and Middle Eastern “30 Under 30” list-makers came to Israel, where they networked, partied and toured the planned Palestinian hi-tech town of Rawabi in the West Bank, where they held a pitch competition for Arab entrepreneurs.
When asked whether activists of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel had reached out to Lane over the event being held here, the editor dismissed the activists’ stance.
“Shutting off is never an answer. Engagement is the answer to almost everything – and exposure. And that’s what this event is about. Bringing people to this region which is incredibly dynamic. We want to make sure attendees see all parts of the region,” he said.
“We have one political view: Entrepreneurship can solve problems better than anything else. That’s part of the Forbes credo. We’re here to empower entrepreneurs, support entrepreneurs. We stay away from politics.”
Lane, who identifies as Jewish, said Forbes was working with Sir Ronald Cohen to get more Israeli Arabs to participate. The editor is also coordinating with Rawabi hi-tech entrepreneurs to allow the Americans and Europeans to visit the Palestinian territories.
The Forbes summit will receive no government support, nor will it invite politicians to address the gathering, Lane said, despite customary attempts by the Israeli government to advertise such events as positive publicity.
Event sponsors include the Shusterman, Singer, Pratt and Jacobson foundations, which have a track record of funding pro-Israel initiatives.
The summit will be held on May 6-9.